Monday, March 15, 2010

Norwegian Geotechnical Institute

My sabbatical is being spent with the International Centre for Geohazards which is a unit of the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute in Oslo. ICG has been selected as a Centre of Excellence by the Research Council of Norway.  This is a unique organization, which participates in pan-European projects related to natural hazards.  There are only 2 full time employees of the Centre.  Most of the projects they conduct are done by visiting scholars, such as myself, and a small army of graduate students from all over the world.  NGI maintains several apartments in Oslo which are used by the visiting scholars and graduate students.  It surely made my transition easier since I did not have to find a place to live while I am here.

One of my first impressions is that it has the feel and energy of the graduate students who are here.  These young people, most of who are working on their dissertations, keep a certain level of excitement about their work that is infectious.  It reminds me of my grad school days and how everyone would anxiously talk about their projects to each other.  I do have to keep reminding myself that I am the “old guy” in the room. 

My project will be used to set some benchmarks for a pan-European project on landslides called Safeland.  It is funded by the European Commission and is a collaborative effort among many universities and institutes in Europe.  I am using data on US landslides from the database compiled by the University of South Carolina (SHELDUS) and am merging that data with demographic data in the hope that we can produce a “profile” of landslide damages.

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